Issue: February 14, 2004

Flowers for garden wedding this spring.


What flowers will be blooming on May 1? Our family has a wedding planned in the backyard, and we want flowers growing that will be in bloom. Our temperature range at that time will be around 48-80 degrees. Can you help us? Keep in mind that we have not planted anything yet. Starting from now, we have until May 1 for planting and getting the plants to flower.

Truth or Consequences, NM


You have a few choices. One is to buy flowering shrubs and install them just before the wedding. This will be an option to save until that time. Until then, you will want to plant annuals.

It is still too early to plant most annuals in T or C, but now is the time to begin preparing the soil. Rototill or turn the soil and work some well-prepared compost (not manure at this time) into the soil. If the soil is dry, moisten it with a soaker hose before digging. This will make it much easier to prepare the soil. As weeds begin to grow, remove them by pulling or hoeing.

You can plant annual flowering seeds directly in the ground, but they will probably not have enough time to grow and flower once the soil is warm enough to plant. You can start them indoors, but you will probably find that it works best to buy transplants from a nursery. Plant them a month or more before the wedding. The nursery can help you choose plants that will bloom within a month from planting. Marigold, zinnia, ageratum, lobelia, begonias, impatiens and plants such as these will give you good flower color and a variety of colors. The nursery will have other plants to choose from as well. Just be sure they will be blooming in time, even ahead of time. If they start blooming early, take care to "dead-head" them (remove old spent blossoms) to encourage continued production of flowers.

Plants which are already flowering at the time you purchase them will give you a good idea of the color and type of the flower, so a few in flower are okay. Once they begin flowering, they grow less and will not fill in as well in the garden. Choose plants at the nursery that are not yet flowing.

Then, as you see where color will be lacking, go to the nursery and purchase some larger container-grown plants such as roses, althea, and other plants already in bloom to fill in the weak spots in the garden. You may want to make early arrangements with the nursery for this contingency so that they will have the plants ready for you.

I wish you the best for the wedding and the garden.

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Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at or at Please include your county Extension Agent ( and your county of residence with your question!

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page:

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.